Founder, Jay Corley, was guided by a set of values that went beyond business models or even the making of the wine itself. He believed in the worth and dignity of hands-on physical labor, of personally crafting something that would last through the generations. He believed in the crucial role in society of fellowship and civil discourse. He believed in the importance of taking the long view — of looking back at history and forward to the future – this is Jay’s legacy.
These values express themselves throughout the estate. They can be seen in the wooden barrel racks and catwalks made by Jay’s brother-in-law Brian in 1980, a master carpenter who handcrafted them with precision instruments to last a lifetime.
Jay’s legacy can be seen in the gleaming redwood boards that line the private wine salon beneath the tasting room. These boards originally made up some of the huge wine-fermentation tanks at Sunny Saint Helena Winery, where Bob Mondavi himself played and worked inside them as a child. When the Mondavis put them up for sale, Jay Corley bought and re-milled them, and used them to panel the Jefferson House Reserve Room and Library, in an act of homage to this great Napa Valley winemaking pioneer.
History came full circle when Mondavi drove down the road for a visit. As Jay Corley later recounted to his children, when Bob came down into the Reserve Room, he told me, “Jay, I stood inside these tanks as a teenager. And here I am inside these tanks again.” And he reverently touched his lips to the wood that had meant so much to his life.
Most of all, Jay Corley’s belief in the value of personal investment and continuity can be seen in his children. Since Jay’s retirement in 1996, the second-generation Corleys have continued to carry forward his legacy. We work hard every day to create the most outstanding wines possible, and with our sustainable growing practices we honor the earth that gives life to our grapes, seeing ourselves not as property owners but as stewards of the land for many generations to come.
We see the development of our wines, too, as spanning generations. Our winemaker brother Chris views each wine as having a “storyline” that, carefully attended to, will make its evolution consistent over 10, 15, even 20 years. He believes that when wine drink a glass, whether it be a Brut sparkling wine, a Reserve cabernet, or any other offerings, they should be able to know what to expect from it, even while delighting in its unique evolution from a specific harvest.
“If we can stay true to what we’re doing, and do it long enough,” says Chris, “then it really matters. We hope we’re leaving things better than we found them. That’s the our Dad’s legacy.”
We cordially invite you to share in the Corley family’s legacy by following the storylines of your favorite wines as they evolve over the years.